Overcoming the Downside of Pursuing Excellence

The problem with the pursuit of excellence is there is no done, only better.

Done satisfies. Move on. Yes!

There is no check box in the pursuit of excellence.

The second challenge with the pursuit of excellence is feedback. Excellence demands feedback but feedback begins in the past. Beware, the past sucks in like black holes.

Danger of “should have”:

“Should have” is the language of regret. “You should have…,” puts down.

“Should have” corrects the past; something impossible to do. “We should have…,” belittles past wisdom, effort, and passion.

Should-have-leaders honor critics and, in so doing, create more critics. “You’re right, I should have…,” is an invitation for second-guessers, nay-sayers, and critics. You get what you honor.

Next time:

“Next time” is better than “should have.”

“Next time” honors participants and ignores critics.


  1. Honor effort, learning, and progress.
  2. Build platforms for future initiatives.
  3. Look to the future more than the past.
  4. Instill hope and show confidence.
  5. Ask, “What did we learn?”

No “next time”:

Critics judge, they never focus on next time. They don’t add value.

Critics sit on the sidelines, seldom offering useful suggestions. They tear down.

If the best you can do is point out failures in others,
you’re probably failing yourself.

Participants, on the other hand, build the future by offering insightful evaluations coupled with positive suggestions.


“Should have” ties to the past. “Next time” maintains momentum.

Bonus tip:

“What worked” and “What didn’t work” is better than “What went wrong?”.

How does the pursuit of excellence turn negative in organizations?

How can leaders pursue excellence in positive ways?